When Google had a falling out with Chinese authorities and wound up on the block list for the Great Firewall, local search player Baidu was there to pick up the slack. Already quite the competitor in the space, Baidu dominated the search market with ease and essentially became to China what Google is to America. Like Google, they began rolling out numerous services like an online encyclopedia, a searchable forum and a mapping service. Competing with the likes of Microsoft Bing and Sina, Baidu didn't have much trouble keeping their lead on the search market, bringing them up to about 60 percent of the market these days. Despite their juggernaut status in China, their presence in America is minimal at best, but this is something they're looking to change in the near future by fleshing out a 100-strong team to work on their own autonomous vehicle technology in Silicon Valley.
The team responsible for work on autonomous technology, called ADU-US, will be developing incrementally and by priority, building out the most vital features and testing them in controlled environments first. When the product is close to completion and needs actual driving data, they plan to let their clearly marked automated cars do their testing in areas that are already robo-vehicle friendly, such as specialized campuses and areas where Google's self-driving vehicles have received full approval. The team is set to include people of all of the various background necessary to make an effective automated system, from machine learning and automotives to hardware and software engineering.
Baidu's senior VP, Jim Wang, spoke on the importance of the project, saying that "Baidu is fully committed to making self-driving cars a reality," and that these automated automobiles will "...save lives and make transportation more efficient." He went on to point out that this team will be playing a large role in Baidu's development efforts on self-driving cars. No specific timeline was given for when the team will begin accepting applications, when the testing of their self-driving cars will begin and if they will be working with or around Google on developing their own take on the future of transportation.